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EA founder claims console market is becoming niche

Friday, 12th October 2012 10:11 GMT By Dave Cook

EA founder Trip Hawkins has explained why he feels the console market is shrinking down to a ‘hobby business’, while the PC and mobile sectors will continue to boom.

Speaking with IGN, Hawkins – who founded EA in 1982 – stated, “The console market is always going to be with us, because there’s always going to be a hardcore segment, a segment that likes innovation. But it’s going to become a smaller market, and it’s going to be more like a hobby market.”

“You look at airplanes,” he continued, “Most of us just want to be a passenger, but there’s a hobby market for people who are really into aviation and want to take flying lessons and maybe someday have their own airplane. I think that’s what’s happening to the console market.”

“But there are billions of people now playing games,” he stressed, “The gaming industry is finally becoming mass-market. It’s across two billion PCs and four billion mobile phones, and within a few years a billion tablets. In terms of total audience size, we’re getting into really big numbers.”

Another reason Hawkins believes consoles will become niche is that people can play games on more devices and through more content streams than that box in your living room.

“Games are going everywhere,” he said, “Plenty of people are playing for social reasons and playing when it’s convenient. It’s a trend towards mobile- and browser- and cloud-based games.”

“You contrast that with what happens when you have to either purchase or download a specific app that runs native on a specific device and you only ever play it when you have that platform in front of you.”

“In the old days I’d go down to the basement to play Grand Theft Auto. But the Facebook gamer is able to play at work, at home, in a hotel on a PC. They can get access to a browser just about anywhere. People are thinking about convenience first.”

What’s your take? Is Hawkins on the money with this, or are consoles just going through a transitional phase?

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7 Comments

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  1. Maximum Payne

    All those PR talk about how Gaming will move to tablets or phones in my opinion is just because its much much cheaper to make games for android and IOS than for consoles and PC

    #1 2 years ago
  2. G1GAHURTZ

    Dave! I thought you were going to try and get an interview with Trip?

    Anyway, I’m not sure if what he’s talking about here is sustainable. If the market gets smaller, then where are the development budgets going to come from?

    If core gaming gets overtaken by casual gaming, then I’m pretty sure that it’s going to mean the death of core gaming.

    No one’s going to spend $20m making a game for a shrinking market, while there’s more money to be made elsewhere.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Dave Cook

    @2 I’d love to dude, the guy’s so interesting, but he’s a tricky man to pin down. I’d imagine IGN has been trying to get him for a while before they did this.

    Maybe one day man, it’s on my ‘to-do’ list for sure :)

    #3 2 years ago
  4. dizzygear

    If you look at Japan its not all that unthinkable. Portables sell like hotcakes there so its not all that unlikely to see that shift here.

    From a publishers standpoint its also more attractive since its cheaper to produce smaller scale games and thus less risky. Still it sucks for us core gamers if this trend continues. Valkyria Chronicles anyone?

    #4 2 years ago
  5. DrDamn

    Hmmm, man who was up until recently CEO of a company focused on PC and Mobile Social games development bigs up PC and Mobile Social gaming.

    It continues to “boom” in strange ways though doesn’t it?

    http://www.vg247.com/2012/05/28/digital-chocolate-lays-off-180-people-hawkins-stands-down-as-ceo/

    It’s obviously been a big growth area, but I’m thinking bubble more than boom now. Not as big as some think and a bit of a contraction incoming – at least in terms of investment and companies in the sector. The number of end users will continue to grow but there has been too much growth on the development side I think.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. roadkill

    Wow! What do you know!? More psychics..

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Stardog

    @DrDamn It’s not a bubble.

    Mobile gaming hasn’t even got started yet and there still isn’t even a truly great game out for Android/iOS.

    It won’t be long before we see larger Skyrim/Fallout style games.

    #7 2 years ago